This Hour: Latest Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont news, sports, business and entertainment - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

This Hour: Latest Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont news, sports, business and entertainment

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MAINE:

TAX CREDITS-MAINE

Property tax credit getting boost with new law

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - A new Maine law means that some low-and-middle income families will see their property tax credits double.

The bill Republican Governor Paul LePage recently signed raises a property tax credit for residents under the age of 65 to $600 from $300. The credits for resident ages 65 and older will rise from $400 to $900.

The bill was introduced by Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves to bolster the property tax credit program, which replaced an old credit that gave homeowners and renters as much as $1,600 back in their taxes.

Democrats said that change was hurting struggling Maine families.

The measure will go into law 90 days after the Legislature ends. Lawmakers plan to return next week to consider any outstanding vetoes from LePage before adjourning.

HOUSING SALES-MAINE

Sales of single-family homes in Maine up

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - The number of existing single-family homes sold in Maine last month jumped almost 13 percent when compared to the same month a year ago.

Maine Listings, a subsidiary of the Maine Association of Realtors, said 892 homes changed hands in March, compared with 792 homes in March 2013.

Statewide, the number of transactions has increased every month since February 2013.

The median price, however, dropped almost 5 percent when compared to the year-ago month, to $162,000 from $170,000.

Bart Stevens of Century 21 Nason Realty Inc. in Winslow tells the Portland Press Herald that some people in the market for a home are still cautious about overpaying.

Maine's sales gains last month bucked a drop in home sales nationally and the Northeast.

GAS PIPELINE LAWSUIT

Natural gas pipeline subcontractor sues

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Another federal lawsuit has been filed in connection with the installation of a natural gas pipeline in the Kennebec Valley.

A subcontractor hired to install the pipeline for the $350 million Summit Natural Gas Inc. project is suing the contractor as well as an insurance company.

Ursa Major Underground Inc. is suing Schmid Pipeline Construction Co. as well as Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., alleging Schmid has failed to make good on its contract and Liberty Mutual refused to pay in a letter saying that Summit has not paid Schmid for the work yet.

The Kennebec Journal reports that the lawsuits are not expected to have a visible effect on the pipeline construction in central Maine.

The defendants have not been served the suit yet and had no comment.

WELFARE FRAUD

Lewiston couple sentenced for housing fraud

AUBURN, Maine (AP) - A Lewiston couple convicted of defrauding the federal government out of more $46,000 in housing subsidies by not disclosing substantial income and real estate holdings have been sentenced.

Roda Abdi was sentenced Tuesday to serve 10 months of a four-year sentence. Her husband, Ali-Nassir Ahmed, was sentenced to serve nine months of a four-year sentence. Both received three years of probation.

They were convicted last year.

Prosecutors say the couple accepted U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development subsidies for which they weren't eligible. The couple lived in a federally subsidized apartment while they owned and operated a profitable market and bought multiple properties with cash.

Prosecutors say the couple has shown little remorse.

The Sun Journal reports that defense attorneys argued for lighter sentences, saying their clients had no criminal records.

WASTEWATER-UPGRADES

Maine gets $30 million for wastewater upgrades

HARTLAND, Maine (AP) - Seven Maine wastewater facilities are receiving $29.7 million for upgrades.

The in U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development grants were announced Tuesday in Hartland in an event celebrating Earth Day. Nationally, a total $387 million is going to 116 similar projects in 40 states and Puerto Rico.

In Maine, the funds are being used for upgrades to wastewater systems the USDA says will help prevent contamination of the state's waterways.

USDA Rural Development says it invested $462.5 million in rural Maine communities last fiscal year. Those funds went to projects that improve the economic stability of rural communities.

MOOSE CHARGES SNOWMOBILERS

Couple charged by moose under investigation

JACKMAN, Maine (AP) - A New Hampshire husband and wife charged by a moose while snowmobiling in Maine are under investigation for possibly following the animal.

The Maine Warden Service says it is examining video of the encounter last week in Jackman that was posted on YouTube by Janis and Bob Powell of Belmont, N.H.

Cpl. John MacDonald says if it's determined the couple followed the moose, they could be charged with misdemeanor wildlife harassment and fined $500.

Bob Powell tells the Portland Press Herald that while they got closer to the animal than anticipated, he and his wife are experienced snowmobilers who know better than to follow wildlife.

He says when the moose charged, its hoof grazed his spine. He was not hurt.

The moose fled when his wife fired a warning shot.

NEW HAMPSHIRE:

HEALTH OVERHAUL-NETWORK

Insurance department starts network rules review

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - The New Hampshire Insurance Department is starting its work to assess how it decides whether insurance policies cover a sufficient number of doctors and other providers.

The department is holding an organizational meeting Wednesday for a working group that will review the state's network adequacy rules and make recommendations to the Legislature.

Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny first mentioned the working group in February, at a public hearing requested by Frisbie Memorial Hospital. The Rochester facility is one of 10 New Hampshire hospitals excluded from the provider network for individual health plans purchased under the federal health care overhaul law.

Though patients and some hospitals have complained, the insurance department has said the company's network meets or exceeds all current adequacy standards.

GAS TAX

NH House voting on 4-cent gas, diesel tax hike

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - New Hampshire's House is voting whether to raise the levy on gasoline and diesel 4 cents - the first increase since 1991.

Supporters say the increase would provide much-needed money to fix deteriorating roads and help finish the expansion of Interstate 93. Opponents say the hike would cost consumers and truckers at the pump and lead to higher prices on goods and services.

The bill would increase funding for highway improvements for two years, then earmark about half the proceeds to pay off $200 million in borrowing to finish the Interstate 93 expansion.

Once the debt is paid off in roughly 20 years, the tax increase would expire. The bill also would eliminate the Exit 12 ramp toll booths in Merrimack.

The House vote is scheduled for today.

EXECUTIVE-FATAL-CRASH

Former Fortune 500 exec indicted in fatal NH crash

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - A New Hampshire grand jury has indicted a former Fortune 500 executive on second-degree murder charges in a crash that killed a Vermont couple in December.

Fifty-three-year-old Robert Dellinger told investigators he was trying to kill himself when he steered his pick-up truck across an Interstate 89 median in Lebanon. His truck went airborne, shearing off the top of the SUV occupied by 29-year-old Jason Timmons of Wilder and his 24-year-old wife, Amanda Murphy, who was eight months pregnant.

The Grafton County Superior Court indictments were released Tuesday. They charge Dellinger with two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Timmons and Murphy and with second-degree assault in the death of the fetus.

Dellinger earlier pleaded not guilty. He is a former senior vice president and chief financial officer at PPG Industries. He also worked for Sprint, Delphi and General Electric.

PRIEST-THEFT

Final plea set for ex-NH priest charged with theft

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - A judge is set to rule on a deal that would send the former leader of one of the nation's top clergy treatment centers to prison for up to 16 years for stealing at least $4,500 from a hospital, a dead priest's estate and the state's Roman Catholic bishop.

Msgr. Edward Arsenault held several senior positions in the New Hampshire diocese from 1999 to 2009 before becoming president and CEO of Saint Luke Institute in Maryland in 2009. He resigned in May 2013 after allegations arose involving an inappropriate adult relationship and misuse of church funds.

The attorney general's office said in February that Arsenault waived indictment and will plead guilty to three felony theft charges.

The agreement is being heard Wednesday morning in superior court in New Hampshire.

SMALL PLANE CRASH-WINNIPESAUKEE

Small plane sinks in Winnipesaukee; pilot rescued

ALTON, N.H. (AP) - Officials say a pilot has been rescued after a small plane crashed and sank in New Hampshire's Lake Winnipesaukee.

New Hampshire State Police say the pilot, who was found submerged in water and clinging to the plane, was the only occupant.

Fifty-nine-year-old Vadim Gayshan of Sudbury, Mass., was rescued by boat and transported to the hospital. Police say he was suffering from cold water immersion.

He radioed for help just after noon Tuesday.

He told investigators that he had taken off in Fitchburg, Mass., and was looking at ice conditions on the lake and doing touch-and-go landings when he misjudged his elevation. The plane's pontoon caught on the water and caused the plane to crash nose-first.

Police say the plane is submerged in about 105 feet of water.

VERMONT:

XGR-GMO LABELING

Vermont House to have final look at GMO labeling

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - The House is slated to take a final vote on legislation that would require foods with genetically modified ingredients to be labeled as such in Vermont and then send it on to Governor Peter Shumlin.

Three House committees reviewed and endorsed a Senate-passed version of the bill, so passage is expected without having to take the measure to a conference committee.

That would send it on to Shumlin, who has indicated he will sign it.

There have been worries that Vermont becoming the first state to require GMO labeling would attract lawsuits by the food and biotech industries.

But Shumlin said last week he believes changes from the original version of the bill have made it defensible in court.

ILLEGAL LENDING

Vermont attorney general to talk predatory lending

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Vermont attorney general William Sorrell is going to be talking about what he sees as the growing problem of illegal lending.

Sorrell plans to focus on the issue today at the Statehouse and will outline what he says will be a comprehensive effort to address it.

EXECUTIVE-FATAL-CRASH

Former Fortune 500 exec indicted in fatal NH crash

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - A New Hampshire grand jury has indicted a former Fortune 500 executive on second-degree murder charges in a crash that killed a Vermont couple in December.

Fifty-three-year-old Robert Dellinger told investigators he was trying to kill himself when he steered his pick-up truck across an Interstate 89 median in Lebanon. His truck went airborne, shearing off the top of the SUV occupied by 29-year-old Jason Timmons of Wilder and his 24-year-old wife, Amanda Murphy, who was eight months pregnant.

The Grafton County Superior Court indictments were released Tuesday. They charge Dellinger with two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Timmons and Murphy and with second-degree assault in the death of the fetus.

Dellinger earlier pleaded not guilty. He is a former senior vice president and chief financial officer at PPG Industries. He also worked for Sprint, Delphi and General Electric.

FOREST FIRES

Forest Services plans fires in Vermont

RUTLAND, Vt. (AP) - Green Mountain National Forest is planning fires this spring to treat about 300 to 400 acres of national forest land in Vermont.

The Forest Service says the prescribed fire will be used to reduce heavy accumulations of brush to restore critical wildlife habit, regenerate growth and improve watershed conditions.

Officials say the fires in the coming weeks will not impact local residents except that they may see and smell smoke. The Forest Service is working with local fire departments in planning the fires.

The timing is dependent on the weather and vegetation conditions. The Forest Service plans to announce more details and burn locations closer to the date of the fires.

DRUG PROBLEM-LIBRARY

Vt. library bathrooms clogged by drug needles

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - A Vermont library is resorting to locking its public restrooms to curb a persistent problem of drug paraphernalia clogging the drains.

Burlington's Fletcher Free Library hopes to have locksmiths complete the work this week.

Library officials say the bathrooms on the mezzanine level of the library were closed three weeks ago for the third time after needles and other drug paraphernalia clogged the drains.

The Burlington Free Press reports that once the locks are installed, library patrons will have to exchange their library card or other identification for a key to the bathrooms. That policy mirrors one already in place for using the handicapped-accessible restroom.

The clogged drains were noticed before they could cause water damage to the bathrooms.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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